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A Message from our President Jim Dorney

14 December 2016

This year, 2016, the People’s College is sixty-eight years in operation. Founded by trade unionists for the benefit of working people, the college has sought to continue to fulfil this role down through the years. Perhaps the college’s philosophy could best be summed up in the slogan of the striking mill girls (1912) when they sought ‘not only bread but roses too’.

The college provides a wide diversity of courses but also boasts


  • • A choir
  • • A debating society
  • • A drama group
  • • Music appreciation lectures
  • • Musical instrument tuition
  • • A creative writing course


All of these initiatives are undertaken for their own inherent worth. There are no competitive examinations or certification. We seek to develop the whole person. Underlying all aspects of the college is the desire to propagate the values of the Trade Union movement – solidarity, comradeship and fair play.

This year our director Fionnuala Richardson retired after twenty-six years of service. The College, the Congress and the Trade Union movement owe a huge debt of gratitude to Fionnuala for her dedication and service. She will be a hard act to follow and will be greatly missed by the students and lecturers of the college who became her friends over the years (my full tribute to Fionnuala on the occasion of her retirement is included elsewhere in the newsletter). Her successor, Joanne Pearson, a former employee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, will bring her own distinctive talents and insight to the position, building on the firm foundations laid by Fionnuala.

The change of leadership in the college provides an opportunity not to change but to develop and extend our activities while remaining true to our core values.

We need to strengthen our links with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Trades Council, the Unemployed, Adult Education associations and other adult education providers. We need to tailor our courses and activities to attract younger students, from a diversity of backgrounds.

During the late ’40s we were accused by the church authorities of ‘introducing an alien philosophy into the country prejudicial to the Irish way of life’. This criticism was unfounded. In any event, the criticism did not resonate with the public. We still propagate the self-same philosophy sixty-eight years later. Long may it remain so.


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